By Joseph Ngure

The countdown to the World CRoss Country Championships starts this week in Nyahururu with the first Kenya Commercial Bank Athletics Kenya Meeting.

It is from Nyahururu that the official build-up will kick-start the season with cross-country hopefuls launching their bid for March 2013 World Country set for Bydgoszcz, Poland.

At stake is also Sh1.2m cross-country jackpot that will see the overall winners in each category enrich their bank accounts at the end of the series next year.

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According Athletics Kenya 2012/2013 Calendar of events, the seven-tier series will culminate in the National-cum IAAF permit meeting at the Uhuru Gardens on February 16 where the national squad would be picked.

Already, Athletics Kenya officials have red-tape conditions and have appealed to athletes training locally to compete in large number during the Kenya Commercial Bank sponsored series so that consistency could be gauged.

“It is through participation in the series that we will be able to gauge the athletes’ potential,” said AK President Isaiah Kiplagat, while receiving the sponsorship from KCB who have injected a cool Sh10.6 million.

Earlier, AK first Vice-President jack Tuwei had echoed the same urging athletes to take advantage of the local meetings in order to have themselves in the right frame for the World Cross-country championship next year.

After Nyahururu, the Southern affiliate will stage the next meeting at Machakos Teachers College and not Tala as has been in the past on November 10.

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The picturesque and undulating Kisii Golf course, which staged the final Jackpot leg last season, will host the third meeting on November 17 followed a week later by Kapsakwony, Mt  Elgon, on November 24.

On December 22, action will move to Eastern with Kangaru High School playing host to the fifth and last competition for this year before athletes take a lull for Christmas.

The New Year will commence with the sixth leg in the North Rift region and Eldoret Polytechnic has been bestowed with the honour of playing host to the event, held at Kenya’s athletics nerve centre, on January 5.

The final leg that will conclude the build up before actions shift to the grass root will be in the South Rift region with Kericho Teachers Training college playing the host on January 26.

On February 16, the National Cross-country championship that will also double up as an IAAF Permit Meeting for Africa, will take place at the historic Uhuru Gardens where the national squad to the 40th International Associations of Athletics Federation World Championships would be selected.

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As opposed to the past, athletes finishing in the top positions in the local competitions would be required to undergo mandatory doping tests before claiming their prizes as one way to wade off cheating.

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